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Selling Digital with Chuck Ellison

In partnership with Lerer Ventures, we recently hosted a gathering of the digital sellers in our respective portfolios.  One of the day's sessions was led by Chuck Ellison, who was one of Bill Gates' first sales hires at Microsoft and has led sales and marketing at 6 companies that have gone public.

Chuck spoke with the group about building and managing your sales team.  He has a process driven sales strategy that has been highly successful across a range of sectors.  Below are highlights of Chuck’s presentation.

Hiring

  • Expect sales candidates to prepare for interviews. Don’t tell them about your company.  Ask them to pitch it, and end the interview if they don’t have a compelling answer.
  • Go 2 degrees of separation on references. Ask provided references to introduce you to secondary references, then ask that set of references once more.

Managing Your Sales Manager

  • Focus on activities that drive results, rather than just the end results – When deals close, new ones should be filling the pipe.
  • Maintain weekly, structured meetings for sales reviews – Start your week with the meeting, with an expectation that you’re both on time and ready to map out priorities for the week.

Salesforce.com

  • Salesforce is a framework not the answer. Use it to clearly define your sales funnel with minimum criteria required to move through each stage. Set a max time for each stage to cull stale deals.
  • Have an executive dashboard built that provides a simple visual of your sales org in real-time, by account, stage, and rep, with wins and losses clearly denoted.

Rewarding Results

  • Pay on cash receipts, not on closing.
  • Don’t cap commissions.  Provide acceleration over annual quota commissions to keep your best sellers incentivized.
  • Use discretionary rewards.  Dinner for two, greens fees and spa days provide a great return on morale with minimal cost.
Thanks to Chuck for participating in our digital sales day and to Nicola Korzenko from Lerer Ventures for sharing her copious notes!
Google Glass vs. iWatch

Google Glass has huge potential but must overcome serious style issues for broad adoption. #SeeSegway

— Joe Medved (@joevc) April 25, 2013


I posted the above tweet last week and got mixed reactions. Google Glass technology could dramatically impact many professions and see related use quickly. However, for broad consumer adoption, the technology needs to be embedded to the point it’s essentially hidden. Until then, vanity will severely constrain growth.

There is an alternative that could deliver much of the same data at a glance. The iWatch concept rumored from Apple could see rapid consumer adoption given its more socially acceptable, glanceable UI. Many reporters over the past week testing Google Glass have questioned the way it makes users look, quickly coining the phrase glasshole for someone willing to walk around wearing the device.They look awkward and create a strange conversation dynamic with a screen and forward facing camera in between you and whoever you’re speaking with.

Alternatively, looking down at your watch is a human behavior that’s been in place for a few hundred years. I am one of those geeks walking the streets of Manhattan staring down at my phone, and I’d feel much more comfortable glancing at my wrist. Without pulling your phone out of your pocket, an iWatch could deliver email headlines, texts, IMs, social media updates and photos, news headlines, weather alerts, and caller ID. Beyond glanceable consumption, with a simple touch interface I could swipe through messages and delete them, look through photos and like them, save stories to read later, or send calls to voicemail. I could give similar commands to Google Glass through my voice, if I didn't mind the whole glasshole thing. We shouldn’t care what strangers think of us, but if we’re honest I think most of us do.

While I agree with the notion that many great consumer devices were once considered toys, I can’t forget gadgets like the Segway that geeks thought would change the world. It turns out most people feel goofy riding around with a helmet on a Segway, and as my friend Rob Go pointed out, you didn’t have to wear a Segway on your face.

An iWatch is a toy that geeks have dreamed of since they read Dick Tracy comics, and it’s one that overcomes the vanity issues facing products like Google Glass and Segway. I think Google Glass has an incredible future as its form is improved, but I’d bet on an iWatch in the near term if Apple or some other big platform player brings one to market.

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